Gold Nanoparticles as a Photothermal Agent in Cancer Therapy: The Thermal Ablation Characteristic Length
In cancer therapy, the thermal ablation of diseased cells by embedded nanoparticles is one of the known therapies. It is based on the absorption of the energy of the illuminating laser by nanoparticles. The resulting heating of nanoparticles kills the cell where these photothermal agents are embedded. One of the main constraints of this therapy is preserving the surrounding healthy cells. Therefore, two parameters are of interest. The first one is the thermal ablation characteristic length, which corresponds to an action distance around the nanoparticles for which the temperature exceeds the ablation threshold. This critical geometric parameter is related to the expected conservation of the body temperature in the surroundings of the diseased cell. The second parameter is the temperature that should be reached to achieve active thermal agents. The temperature depends on the power of the illuminating laser, on the size of nanoparticles and on their physical properties. The purpose of this paper is to propose behavior laws under the constraints of both the body temperature at the boundary of the cell to preserve surrounding cells and an acceptable range of temperature in the target cell. The behavior laws are deduced from the finite element method, which is able to model aggregates of nanoparticles. We deduce sensitivities to the laser power and to the particle size. We show that the tuning of the temperature elevation and of the distance of action of a single nanoparticle is not significantly affected by variations of the particle size and of the laser power. Aggregates of nanoparticles are much more efficient, but represent a potential risk to the surrounding cells. Fortunately, by tuning the laser power, the thermal ablation characteristic length can be controlled.